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Culture Shock

They Are Gutting a Body of Water Album Review

Seconds are all it takes to capture a listener or elicit a skip. Listening to the Philadelphia experimental band They Are Gutting a Body of Water (TAGABOW) will surely either scare or entrance a listener instantly. Originating as the solo project of Douglas Dulgarian in 2018, the band has come to include Ben Opuat on drums, Emily Lofing on bass, and PJ Carroll on lead guitar. Having recently been featured on Stereogum and Audiotree Live, their unique sound is reaching more listeners than ever. But, when asked how to describe their sound, one might struggle, as each song is a mixup between shoegaze and drums and bass (DNB) electronic music.  

With such a diverse array of sounds and styles, TAGABOW can be overwhelming for a first-time listener. The suggested starting point would be their 2019 album, Destiny XL. Opening the record, "texas instruments" provides an unmistakable shoegaze sound reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine; with its airy vocals and loud, muddy guitars, this mysterious sound is one to remember. But, the LP is not confined to shoegaze. Track 3, "ES beautyhand," features harp samples smashed together with text notifications, eventually overtaken by the sound of water being plucked to a DNB beat. Every listen reveals a new layer to the song, making repeat listens a must for this band. The mashup of genres is similar to fellow Philly band Spirit of the Beehive. But TAGABOW's songs contain a much harsher approach, often evoking feelings of anger and confusion within the music. The record continues experimenting with samples and genres while placing a foot in shoegaze.  

Most recently, TAGABOW released a split EP, An Insult to the Sport, with fellow Philly band A Country Western via Topshelf records. The undeniable standout track from this release is "The Brazil". Running at six minutes, "The Brazil," is an ambitious track with a diverse progression. It begins with a bed of shoegaze, and pitched-up vocals similar to those on God Save the Animals by Alex G. The song then mellows out to a lo-fi indie section up until about the two and half minute mark, where the song morphs into an experimental madness. The finale includes a patchwork of shoegaze ambiance and a ravaging DNB beat, creating a chaotic hallucination for the listener.

TAGABOW sets to push its genre-bending further with their upcoming record Lucky Styles, set to release on October 17. The band has released the single "violence ii" from the new record, with lyrics repeating "are you adjusted to the dark," and thin chorus-laden guitars bouncing on top of a driving beat. Citing the Super Mario 64 soundtrack as a significant influence and hoping to further develop their sound, TAGABOW looks to become the next big indie band from Philadelphia.

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